It might seem strange, even defensive perhaps for a property manager to discourage owners and tenants from interacting. But there are sound reasons for this.
I often tell clients that tenants are like children of divorced parents. What the children can’t get from one parent, they will manipulate their way to getting from the other parent. Thankfully it is the minority who stir up trouble. Regardless, it is good practice for the tenant and owner never to cross paths, because when they do, it can cost the owner dearly.
Below are the three most common scenarios:
The Sob Story: Tenants will play on owners’ emotions to gain forgiveness for late payment of rent or other matters pertaining to their lease obligations. The property manager represents the owner’s best interest and has clearly defined policies. The tenant has signed a legal document agreeing to these policies. This allows for impartial enforcement. An owner may be tempted to bend the rules because they allow themselves to become emotionally caught up in the tenant’s personal challenges.
The Complainer: Some tenants like to gain favor with the owner, hoping for special or preferred treatment. They may want to secure fixed rent for future lease extensions, or bypass property manager’s systems or protocol, (which are put in place to protect the owner, by the way). In this circumstance tenants will sometimes play the good guy, bad guy game, complaining to the owner about imagined grievances they have with the property manager, making the property manager out to be the bad guy to undermine the owner’s trust in the property manager in order to give the tenant greater influence and control.
The Disputer: This is the most dangerous scenario for the owner because it can end up costing them substantially. From time to time property managers find themselves with tenant disputes. It’s usually over a disagreement about costs of repairs deemed damage rather than normal wear and tear. No tenant likes to have money subtracted from their security deposit when they vacate a rental, but deductions are always clearly itemized and the tenant is given an opportunity to file a dispute if they disagree with the property managers findings. All disputes follow carefully structured protocol, ensuring all communications are documented. When a tenant involves an owner in a dispute the waters get muddied and communications, at best become confusing, at worst will compromise the property managers case. If a dispute ends up in court, the judge will always rule in favor of the tenant if there is the slightest lack of clarity in the case, if protocol has not been strictly followed, and particularly if there has been owner involvement that is not clearly documented, and the owner is not there to defend his position.
So the moral of the story is, allow the property manager to do the job you hired them to do. If you don’t trust them to do the job to your satisfaction, you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place.